12/06/06 — Coffield, Easley hit long-range bombs at FMU

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Coffield, Easley hit long-range bombs at FMU

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on December 6, 2006 1:46 PM

FLORENCE, S.C. -- It's official, Elton Coffield is no longer a starter. And he couldn't be happier.

Coffield and Kendrick Easley combined for 11 of Mount Olive's season-high 13 three-pointers as the Trojans defeated Francis Marion 89-74 in non-conference men's basketball Tuesday. The win, Mount Olive's first on the road this season, extends the Trojans' winning streak to three.

Coffield finished with 23 points, while Easley scored 17 points and pulled down a career-high eight rebounds.

Mount Olive (5-2) fought off two ties and seven lead changes before Coffield's three-pointer with 12:09 left in the first half put the Trojans ahead to stay 17-15. Easley sandwiched a pair of three-pointers around a Brandon Streeter layup to cap a run of 11 unanswered points and extend the Trojans' lead to 25-15.

The Trojans built the lead to as many as 14 points, but Francis Marion (3-4) stayed in the game as Raymond Dorsey scored 12 straight points for the Patriots. FMU ended the first half on a 10-4 run as Nate Morely's three-pointer cut the Trojans' lead to 49-43 at halftime.

Coffield was 5-for-6 from three-point range in the first half, while Easley was 4-for-6 from beyond the arc as Mount Olive connected on 10 three-pointers on 17 attempts by halftime. Prior to Tuesday, the Trojans' highest single-game three-point total was seven in Mount Olive's previous game against Limestone.

Coffield was in the Trojans' starting lineup in the first four games of the season, but has resumed his role as the team's "sixth man."

"I was coming off the bench the last two years and we had a lot of success," said Coffield. "I feel more comfortable coming off the bench and if it isn't broke, don't fix it."

Mount Olive outscored Francis Marion 9-0 from the free throw line in the first half as the Trojans were whistled for only three fouls and the Patriots never went to the line before halftime. But FMU stayed in the game by hitting seven three-pointers and shooting 53 percent (18-for-34) from the field.

After Easley's fifth three-pointer of the game gave Mount Olive another double-digit lead, Dorsey converted a three-point play with 17:19 remaining to pull Francis Marion within 54-47. But the Trojans answered with a 10-0 run as Coffield's three-pointer extended the lead to 17 points, the Trojans' biggest of the game.

The Trojans led by double figures the rest of the way and Francis Marion never got any closer than 11 points. Mount Olive matched its biggest lead when Elijah Rouse pulled down an offensive rebound and beat a triple team to find Lydell Walker for a two-handed slam dunk to give the Trojans a 75-58 lead with 6:22 remaining.

After going against a zone defense throughout most of the first half, Mount Olive faced man-to-man throughout the second half.

The Trojans hit 3-of-5 three-pointers after halftime, but shot 57.1 percent (16-for-28) from the field in the second half and 53.4 percent for the game. Mount Olive was 13-for-22 from beyond the arc.

"We just took what they gave us," said Coffield, who finished 7-for-8 from the field, including 6-for-7 from three-point range. "I think we play better against man-to-man, but we did well tonight against the zone and man-to-man."

Streeter, who is also enjoying success off the bench, added 13 points and five rebounds for Mount Olive. Streeter is averaging 17 points per contest in his last three games, all coming off the bench.

Rouse was held to single digits in scoring for the first time since the Trojans' season opener, but came close to pulling off a triple-double with nine points, eight rebounds and a career-high seven assists. Justin Melton established a career high with eight assists. Walker finished with three blocked shots for the second consecutive game. Mount Olive outrebounded Francis Marion 42-31.

Dorsey led Francis Marion with 20 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Dorsey, who uses a left-handed Don Nelson (one-handed) style to shoot free throws, was 4-for-6 from the line. Cortné Baker added 16 points and Rodrick Burton finished with 13 points for the Patriots, which went 0-for-7 from three-point range in the second half.

Tuesday's game was the second meeting between Trojan head coach Bill Clingan and Francis Marion first-year head coach Gary Edwards. Edwards was head coach at Indiana (Pa.) when the Trojans defeated Indiana in the semifinal round of the East Regional at the 2005 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship. Mount Olive went on to win the regional and advance to the Elite Eight.

Mount Olive is off for final exams, which begin this week.

The Trojans return to action December 29-30 at the UNC Pembroke Classic. Mount Olive opens against Chowan -- a 78-74 winner at Barton Tuesday -- then takes on Lincoln Memorial (Tenn.).